Sam Saleh
Sam Saleh

Owner
Deals on Wheels of PA

No matter whether you’re a retail giant or a mom-and-pop diner, you must have a website to meet the needs of today’s consumers. An internet presence is mandatory for any company that wants to be taken seriously as a business. Consumers expect to be able to find your website, and they evaluate your store based on what they see. It’s no longer enough to be listed in the phone book or even on shopping sites such as Cars.com. This is especially true for independent dealers hoping to carve out their own space among the franchise players, yet recent polls show that only half of independent stores have a website.

“People are shopping the internet every day, and our website makes their decision easier for them,” said Sam Saleh, owner of Deals on Wheels of PA in Levittown, Pa. “They can compare vehicles and know what they want before making a trip to our store. It makes our job easier as well, with half the battle already fought.”

Saleh, who sells 25 to 30 cars each month, said he recently switched to Cars.com’s DealerSites from an AutoTrader.com website. “My site is very simple and user-friendly. Customers are finding what they need,” he said.

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The Deals on Wheels of PA DealerSites website helps the store connect with in-market shoppers.

Optimized for Success

Having a website is step one, but you also want to be sure the site delivers a good consumer experience and that it is optimized for sales results. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Make inventory the star of your site and keep it fresh: A solid inventory display module should be at the core of every dealer website, so shoppers can see your current inventory and specials. It’s also essential to make sure your online inventory is up to date. Nothing will frustrate a buyer more than showing up to see a car that’s not in stock. They’ll feel they have been given the bait and switch, so always be sure to remove sold inventory from your website.
  • Make sure your site informs shoppers about the value of doing business with your store: Car shoppers use dealers’ websites for the tools and information they provide, but they are also using them to shop the dealer. In addition to showcasing your inventory, you also want your website to give prospects a favorable impression of your store and encourage them to buy from you.
  • Keep it simple and easy to use: The best dealer websites allow consumers to find what they need quickly and easily, while maintaining a consistent look and feel. Often graphics and flashy widgets become a higher priority to dealers than website usability, but be sure your website loads quickly in your prospects browsers so they don’t get impatient and click over to your competitors.
  • Help shoppers navigate the buying process: Concise homepage text along with call-outs to the most important site features serve consumers well and guide them through your inventory, specials and dealership information. The best sites make it easy for shoppers to submit a lead at any point during their online shopping process.
  • Promote financing options and give buyers a way to start the process: Including a secure credit application on your website is an easy way to give the consumer the option to start the sales process right away.
  • Make it easy for buyers to take the next step toward a purchase: The homepage and every other page on your site should display your phone number, email address and store address, along with a link to popular map sites such as Google Maps so buyers can get directions to your store.
  • Optimize your site for top performance in the search engines: With 79 percent of shoppers using search engines to research dealerships[1], it’s also essential that you optimize your site for performance on sites like Google and Yahoo! so that consumers in your area find you. Working with a third party such as Cars.com that includes optimization in its site development process is an easy way to achieve this goal.

Using Your Site as a Sales Tool

Once your website is up and running, it is a great ally in the sales process. Not only will it drive traffic and meet the information needs of online buyers, you can also leverage your site as part of your sales process.

We recommend that dealerships get online with buyers during the sales cycle. The site can be a reference point when working with shoppers who call the store. It can even be a good way to show customers more information and details while they are in your showroom to build credibility.

“When people call about vehicles, we direct them to the website, especially if they live a distance away,” Saleh said. “It helps them to see inventory pictures and get a good idea of the vehicle they are interested in before coming down.”

For More Information

If you would like to learn more about DealerSites from Cars.com, please contact your sales representative or call 800.298.1460.

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[1] The Cobalt Group, 2007 Dealer eBusiness Performance Study: The New Buying Influences